Devotional Week 1, 2021 Thursday
Week 1 Thursday
January 7, 2021
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The Lord confides in those who worship Him, He makes His covenant in those who worship Him. My eyes are ever on the Lord.”
Psalm 25: 14, 15
The Message Bible
“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.”
Psalm 25: 14
“There are secrets of providence which God’s dear children may learn. His dealings with them often see, to the outward eye, dark and terrible. Faith looks deeper and says, ‘This is God’s secret. You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the ‘hidden meaning’! Sometimes diamonds are done up in rough packages, so that their value cannot be seen…God may send you, dear friend, some costly packages. Do not worry if they are done up in rough wrappings. You may be sure there are treasures of love, and kindness, and wisdom hidden within. If we take what He sends, and trust Him for the goodness of it, even in the dark, we shall learn the meaning of the secrets of (God’s) providence.’”
A. B. Simpson
Today’s Study Texts:
“So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said, ‘Come and have breakfast.’”
John 21: 11, 12
“To Him Who Is Able”
“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”
In what ways has God abundantly blessed my life?
Do I have faith to trust God’s bounteous care even when, from all outward appearances, my journey on earth appears difficult?
“Believe that (God) is able and willing to do the ‘greater things’ which He has promised to do…open your heart to receive Him and all that He brings.”
“God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”
Ephesians 3: 20
The Message Bible
I wonder how we would have felt if we had been fishing all night and once daylight began to break, we realized that, in fact, we weren’t able to catch even one fish. I think I’d be “down in the dumps.” I’d have probably said to myself, “what a useless night that was.” No doubt, Jesus’ disciples felt defeated, too.
And then, a figure on the shore said “Put your net down on the right side of the boat.” Jesus’ shoreline perspective helped Him see what the disciples were blinded from being able to recognize – not only the fish in the water, but also Jesus on the shore.
When we look at the totality of this fishing expedition, there are three specific blessings which Jesus poured out on His disciples in a very short period of time. Here they are:
Blessing #1: After catching nothing – when with an obedient and teachable spirit the disciples followed Jesus’ instructions, they didn’t just catch a few fish, Jesus provided them with a bountiful catch. I like the way Matthew Henry portrays this incident as he notes that the disciples “had the curiosity to count the (fish).” The fact is there were 153 and the Bible tells us that they weren’t tiny little minnows – these were big fish. Furthermore, this huge catch was more than they needed for their present supply. Jesus provided enough for the day as well as an extra amount which could be sold and could provide the disciples with the funds necessary for their upcoming ministry when they returned to Jerusalem.
As I read about this “fish counting” endeavor, I thought again of a song I’ve referred to before entitled, Count Your Blessings. I love the words in verse one of this hymn and as you read these words, think of yourself sitting on the beach with the disciples and a tremendous catch of fish and you are counting every last one of them in order to see what Jesus had done for you:
“When upon life’s billows,
You are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged
Thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings
Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you
What the Lord has done.”
Johnson Oatman, Jr.
Sometimes, when we’re overwhelmed by the challenges we face, we would do our downhearted spirits well to start counting one-by-one – the very blessings which God has showered upon our own lives. And just like the disciples, we might be surprised – just how many blessings we’ve received – more than 153 on one day.
Blessing #2: The Apostle John is very clear when he states that even with this tremendous catch of huge fish, “the net did not break.” Just think what would have happened if the net had ripped apart. The catch would have been lost. However, in spite of the huge catch, the net held firm. I’ve used these words before, “where God guides, He provides.” I can attest to the truth of these words for last year, right here in Transformation Garden, the ability of our website to handle the traffic efficiently was stretched beyond the limit. I didn’t know what to do but within a matter of a month, a new web designer was recommended and in 30 days time (yes, there are times God moves very quickly!) we had everything up and running. But here’s the – and the net didn’t break part of the story a blessing which happened right here in the Garden. Over the past year, nearly 18,000 new people have come to the Garden. That’s nearly double the number of individuals who had come in the previous nine years all put together. And furthermore, had we been running on our old system, we could never have managed this explosive growth. Now, whenever I get to worrying about the challenges I see ahead as we move along God’s path here in Transformation Garden, I start counting “those fish” and before you know it, I’m well over 153!
Blessing #3: Jesus had breakfast all prepared for the disciples, too! Just having 153 fish in a solid net would be more than enough blessings for most of us. But then on top of Blessings 1 and 2, Jesus had breakfast prepared and laid out for His dear friends. It’s very likely that after a long night at sea, the disciples were not only tired but very hungry. And their kind Friend took note of this and so He not only provided for the extras, He did so after seeing to the necessities. It was Jesus way, I believe, of reminding His followers down through time that there’s no detail in our lives which is too insignificant to miss His attention. Matthew recorded Jesus’ own words, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” (Matthew 10: 29, N.I.V.). I’d like to share the way The Message Bible paraphrases this passage: “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail.”
If you’ll review these three blessings on the beach, I believe you’ll find the reason that I began our “Inspiration” with the words of the Apostle Paul to his Christian friends in Ephesus. This particular text is one of my favorites: “Now unto him, that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.” To get a better idea of the word “exceeding” in Greek which is “hupêr”. I did some research and found that it is used to mean “for the sake of.” And I asked myself, “for the sake of whom?” Well, it’s for Christ’s sake, His power works on our behalf to do in us and through us more, higher, wider and deeper than we can imagine. So the next time you feel your net is empty, look out. Exceeding, abundantly above all you ask or think is coming your way. All I can say is you’d better start counting! Those blessings are coming! 153, 154,…531, 532…1.251, 1,252!!!
“It is encouraging to Christ’s children…that they may depend upon Him.”
Our Father’s Care
“The ships glide in at the harbor’s mouth,
And the ships sail out to sea,
And the wind that sweeps from the sunny south
Is sweet as sweet can be.
There’s a world of toil, and a world of pains,
And a world of trouble and care,
But O, in a world where our Father reigns,
There are (blessings) everywhere.
The harvest wave in the breezy morn,
And the men go forth to reap;
The fullness comes to the tasseled corn,
Whether we wake or sleep.
And for on the hills by feet untrod
There are blossoms that scent the air,
For O, in this world of our Father God,
There are (blessings) everywhere.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
The Women Who Met Jesus
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